Judge Grills Tim Cook on App Store Policies as End of of Epic Games v. Apple Trial Approaches

Apple CEO Tim Cook testified in the Epic Games v. Apple trial today, and some of the final questioning by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers did not appear to go in Apple's favor.

app store blue banner
She spent several minutes grilling Cook on Apple's App Store policies and some of the statements that he made. "You said you want to give users control, so what's the problem with allowing users to have a cheaper option for content?"

Cook clarified that by control, he meant control over data, and he told the judge that customers can choose between Android phones and the iPhone.

Rogers was not satisfied with that answer, and asked again what the issue is with Apple allowing customers to buy cheaper V-Bucks (Fortnite's in-game currency) either in-app or by linking out to a website.

"If we allowed developers to link out like that, we would give up our monetization," said Cook. "We need a return on our IP. We have 150,000 APIs to create and maintain, numerous developer tools, and processing fees."

Judge Rogers said that Apple could monetize in other ways, pointing out that games make up most of the in-app purchases. "It's almost as if they're subsidizing everyone else," she said. Rogers used the example of banking apps on the ‌App Store‌. "You don't charge Wells Fargo, right? But you're charging gamers to subsidize Wells Fargo."

Games are transacting on the platform, said Cook in explanation. He also explained that having a large number of apps available for free increases the traffic to the ‌App Store‌, creating a much larger audience for gaming apps than would be available if there weren't free apps available.

Judge Rogers said that taking a cut of in-app purchases for games while not charging other apps is a "choice." "There are clearly other options," said Cook. "We think overall, this is the best one." Rogers said that she understands that Apple brings users to the games, but after the initial interaction, game developers are keeping their customers. "Apple's just profiting off of that it seems to me," she said."

"I view it differently. We're creating the entire amount of commerce on the store and we do that by getting the largest audience there. We do that with a lot of free apps, those bring a lot to the table," Cook argued.

"You have no in-app competition on in-app purchases," said Rogers. Cook explained that people can purchase games on other platforms, something that's up to the developer to explain.

Judge Rogers said that she did not believe that Apple lowered its ‌App Store‌ fees for developers making under $1 million because of COVID, instead suggesting that Apple's motivation was the litigation that it is facing. "It was because of COVID," said Cook. "Of course, I had the lawsuit in the back of my mind." Google changed its practices due to competition, argued the judge, referencing Google's decision to also cut Play Store pricing. "You didn't change because of competition," she added.

Rogers then asked Cook about a survey that found 39 percent of developers are dissatisfied with the ‌App Store‌, which led to some of the most damning questioning of the trial. Cook said he wasn't aware of the survey, but the fact that 40k apps are rejected per week leads to some friction because sometimes developers and users don't have incentives that align with one another.

"It doesn't seem to me like you have competition or feel much incentive to work for developers," Rogers told Cook. She said she hadn't seen evidence that Apple conducts surveys regarding developer satisfaction or makes changes for developers. Apple and Epic will give closing statements on Monday, May 24, which will mark the conclusion of the trial.

Top Rated Comments

Scipster Avatar
16 months ago
Lol everyone was quick to praise the Judge when she grilled Tim Sweeney. YGR is just doing her job. She has to ask the tough questions. Who knows where it will lead.
Score: 65 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kiensoy Avatar
16 months ago
Judge is bringing up some good points. I don’t think that means she is biased or sided with Epic.
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Freida Avatar
16 months ago
The article sounds one sided. The questioning was long and if the writer picks just these than of course it sounds like that. I think it would be fair to read the whole transcript and then see if it was really one sided


The Judge seems to be one sided. Doesn't sound good for Apple
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Trenches Avatar
16 months ago
The judge needs to dig into the meat of the arguments, and her point about no in-app purchase competition is valid. Apple is running within the parameters of a monopolistic market at best (either App Store or Google Play) and a monopoly when it comes to iOS/iPadOS apps they did not create.

Most arguments on the forums I see are just people who are OK with Apple’s monopoly. No one said monopolies were automatically bad in all ways. They can provide higher consistency, quality, and customer satisfaction than the open market. But they exert domineering control over choice, market entrance, and customer relationships.

As for Tim’s point: why is Apple’s return on its IP any more important than a developer’s return in its IP? At some point, the outlet of purchase has to shut up and go away. Walmart shouldn’t get a cut of every slice of bread I buy for the toaster I bought there.

This isn’t black and white; it is serving Apple to mislead us into thinking it is. They can spin off the App Store, remove in-app purchase restrictions (or make their in-app offering more competitive to where developers will use it out of desire rather than force), and they can provide the same security benefits to iOS without being anticompetitive. You heard it in plainspeak straight from the source; in-app purchase restrictions are about Apple’s money only, competition be damned.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Act3 Avatar
16 months ago

Same as some others said. Why would a judge be allowed to ask a lot of questions?
isn't that part of the judge's job so that she can make a ruling?
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
16 months ago
The judge grilled Tim; but Tim Cooked the judge!
...

I'll grab my virtual coat.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

paddle in app purchase

Paddle Postpones Launch of In-App Purchase Alternative After Apple Wins Reprieve

Thursday December 9, 2021 1:41 pm PST by
Payments platform Paddle will be delaying the launch of its alternative in-app payment system for iOS, the company announced today. The delay comes after Apple won a stay allowing it to maintain the current App Store payment setup until after an appeals court examines the original ruling in the Epic v. Apple case. Back in October, Paddle announced plans to launch a web-based payment system...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic Games Appeals Ruling in Apple Lawsuit, Claims Court Made Errors

Thursday January 20, 2022 10:29 am PST by
Epic Games today kicked off its appeal of the judge's decision in the Epic v. Apple lawsuit, filing an opening brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Both Apple and Epic Games have decided to appeal the original ruling as neither company was satisfied with the outcome. Epic Games wanted the court to force Apple to support third-party App Stores, which did not...
Apple Logo Cash Feature Blue

Shareholders Advisory Group Doesn't Want Tim Cook to Get $99 Million Pay Package

Wednesday February 16, 2022 10:49 am PST by
Apple shareholders are being urged to vote against a planned $99 million compensation package for Apple CEO Tim Cook, reports Financial Times. Shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) said on Wednesday that there is a "significant concern" with the stock Cook was awarded in 2021. Cook last year was awarded stock valued at $82 million, along with a $3 million salary ...
Tim Cook Feature Yellow

Apple CEO Tim Cook Testifies in Epic Games v. Apple Trial

Friday May 21, 2021 8:48 am PDT by
Today is the one of the last days of the Epic Games v. Apple trial, and Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken the stand to ask questions levied by both Apple and Epic lawyers. Cook's testimony won't be integral to the outcome of the trial, but what he has to say is of interest because this is the first time that he's testified in a legal case, which highlights the serious nature of this dispute....
timcook

Tim Cook: Users Who Want to Sideload Apps Can Use Android, While the iPhone Experience Maximizes 'Security and Privacy'

Tuesday November 9, 2021 8:51 am PST by
Amid a heightened amount of scrutiny and tension surrounding the App Store and how users download and install apps on the iPhone, Apple CEO Tim Cook said today that customers who wish to sideload apps should consider purchasing an Android device as the experience offered by the iPhone maximizes their security and privacy. Speaking at The New York Times "DealBook" summit, Cook said that...
app store blue banner epic 1

Epic Games CEO Renews Attack on Apple and Calls for Single, Universal App Store

Tuesday November 16, 2021 3:31 am PST by
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has today renewed his attack on Apple and called for a single, universal app store that works across all platforms (via Bloomberg). Last year, Epic's popular game "Fortnite" became the subject of heated litigation with Apple and Google over the rate of commission on in-app purchases. After Epic broke App Store rules by implementing a direct payment option, the game ...
app store blue banner epic 1

Epic Lost Trial Due to Flawed Argument, Not Legal Error, Apple Says in Appeals Filing

Thursday March 24, 2022 3:32 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and today, the Cupertino company filed an opening brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Both Apple and Epic Games opted to appeal the original ruling in the Epic Games v. Apple case as neither company was satisfied with the outcome. Epic lost, while Apple was subject to App Store changes that are on hold pending ...
wordle

Clones of Popular 'Wordle' Game Flooding App Store, Including One Charging $30 Per Year [Updated]

Tuesday January 11, 2022 1:39 pm PST by
If you're a regular internet user you've probably heard of popular web-based daily guessing game Wordle, created by Josh Wardle. The game, which is entirely free to play, was introduced last fall and has been spreading like wildfire. Wordle asks players to guess a five letter word by identifying which letters are in the word and are located in the right location. Players get six guesses per...

Popular Stories

cook sept 2020 event

Gurman: Apple Preparing Pre-Recorded iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 Event

Sunday August 7, 2022 6:13 am PDT by
Apple has "started to record" its virtual September event, where it's expected to announce the upcoming iPhone 14 lineup, the Apple Watch Series 8, and a new "rugged" Apple Watch model, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman says the event, which is expected to take place in the early part of September, is already under production, implying...
iPhone 14 Lineup Feature Purple

Color Options for All iPhone 14 Models: Everything We Know

Monday August 8, 2022 3:59 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models are rumored to be available in a refreshed range of color options, including an all-new purple color. Most expectations about the iPhone 14 lineup's color options come from an unverified post on Chinese social media site Weibo earlier this year. Overall, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro's selection of color options could look fairly similar to those of the ...
ios 16 beta 5 battery percent

iOS 16 Beta 5: Battery Percentage Now Displayed in iPhone Status Bar

Monday August 8, 2022 10:43 am PDT by
With the fifth beta of iOS 16, Apple has updated the battery icon on iPhones with Face ID to display the specific battery percentage rather than just a visual representation of battery level. The new battery indicator is available on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, with the exception of the 5.4-inch iPhone 12/13 mini. It is also available on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, XS and XS Max, and...
iOS 16 battery percentage

Apple Limiting iOS 16 Beta 5 Battery Percentage Display to Select iPhones: Here Are the Supported Devices

Tuesday August 9, 2022 2:51 am PDT by
Apple this week brought back one of the most highly requested features from iOS users since the launch of the iPhone X in 2017: the ability to see your battery percentage directly in the status bar. Ever since the launch of the iPhone X with the notch, Apple has not allowed users to show their battery percentage directly in the status bar, forcing them to swipe down into Control Center to...
ios 16 battery indicator 2

Everything New in iOS 16 Beta 5: Battery Percentage in Status Bar, Find My Changes and More

Monday August 8, 2022 12:53 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the fifth beta of iOS 16 to developers for testing purposes, introducing some small but notable changes to the iOS operating system. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We've rounded up everything new in the fifth beta below. Battery Percentage in Status Bar The battery icon in the status bar now displays the exact battery percent, a feature that ...
iphone 14 pro max camera bump compared lipilipsi 16 9

Bigger iPhone 14 Pro Max Camera Bump Shown Alongside iPhone 13 Pro Max

Monday August 8, 2022 4:33 am PDT by
The camera bump on the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro Max is expected to be the largest rear lens housing Apple has ever installed on its flagship smartphones, and a new photo offers a rare glimpse at just how prominent it is compared to Apple's predecessor device. iPhone 14 Pro Max dummy (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max All iPhone 14 models are expected to see upgrades to the Ultra Wide camera on the...
airpods pro black background

Beyond iPhone 14: Five Apple Products Expected to Launch Later This Year

Monday August 8, 2022 9:43 am PDT by
While the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 are expected to be announced in September as usual, there are several more Apple products rumored to launch later this year, including new iPad and Mac models and more. Beyond the iPhone and Apple Watch, we've put together a list of five Apple products that are most likely to be unveiled by the end of 2022. Second-Generation AirPods Pro Apple...